In a special, Thanksgiving edition of his Stat of the Week, John Dewan chronicles the Cubs' aversion to taking walks from 2003 through '07.
Here is how the Cubs hitters ranked among NL clubs in BB:
2003 14th of 16 teams
2004 14th of 16 teams
2005 16th of 16 teams
2006 16th of 16 teams
2007 15th of 16 teams
Last year was a different story. The Cubs led the NL with 636 walks--the league average was 551--and, as Dewan points out, "the Cubs increased their run production by over 100 runs...leading the 2008 NL in runs scored with 855."
Based on the individual player stats at FanGraphs, here is how the key figures in the Cub lineup aided the cause and how their willingness to walk in 2008 compared to 2007 and the rest of their careers:
|Player|| '08 BB%
||'07 BB %
||Career BB %
Geovany Soto (just 79 career AB's before last year) and Kosuke Fukudome aren't listed because they had no MLB track record to compare to, but both wore their walking shoes last season: Soto walked 11.2% of the time (2nd among NL catchers) and Fukudome finished at 13.9%, a higher BB rate than all but three other regular NL outfielders, Adam Dunn (19.1%), Pat Burrell (16.0%), and Atlanta's Gregor Blanco (14.7%). As much as Fukudome appeared to be overmatched for much of the season, his patience at the plate, at least early in the year, seemed to set the stage for the Cubs' overall offensive approach in 2008.